A-Class gets foiling

Photo: Richard Gladwell / www.sail-world.com/nz
Mischa Heemskerk tells us about his lift off moment and lessons learned from the Worlds
The A-Class Catamaran Worlds took place recently in Takapuna, New Zealand, and were comprehensively dominated by Emirates Team New Zealand crews, with AC72 wing trimmer Glenn Ashby securing his unprecedented eighth A-Cat World title. But were we the only ones surprised to see the A-Cats foiling? Previously we had been led to believe that the venerable class for singlehanded dinghy cats had been trying to prohibit such new fangled development. In fact parts of the A-Class rule specifically aim to prevent foiling. For just this very reason, the rule stipulates that no part of a board can be within 0.75m of the centreline (bear in mind the overall beam of an A-Cat is just 2.3m) and boards also cannot be fitted from beneath the hull, ie they must all be top loaded, thereby outlawing T-foil or L-shaped boards with any significant horizontal component. Nonetheless, as was the case with the AC72 rule, where there is a will, there is a way. While Mischa Heemskerk was in Hyeres last year doing some training, he inadvertently found his DNA A-Cat flying after she’d been fitted some new ‘J-boards’. “We got a little bit more area and all of a sudden the boat was flying and it was like ‘hey, that’s great’,” the Dutch cat legend recalls. “Then after that we learned what to do better and now the boats are properly foiling.” While this was the ‘eureka moment’, strangely getting airborne didn’t come with the immediate hike in performance you’d perhaps expect. Perhaps it was due to the increased drag from the catamaran’s two hulls than compared to the set-up of for example, a Moth, but Heemskerk says that in their earliest trials they found they were going at pretty much the same speed as the standard non-foiling DNA cat: “At that stage I could